Type: Trad, 490 ft, 4 pitches
FA: John Turner, Fran├žois Garneau, Bernard Poisson (1957)
Page Views: 8,224 total · 82/month
Shared By: Mike McLean on Sep 11, 2010
Admins: Jim Lawyer

You & This Route

45 Opinions

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Access Issue: Peregrine closures and approach trail issues Details


P1 (5.4R) - 100' : Start at the right leaning hand crack, then follow the orange face up to a diagonal crack where a vertical crack intersects. Belay here. There is no real crux except for the long runout. Rock is good, feet are there; but there is most definitely a long runout.

P2 (5.4PG) - 80': Go up the vertical crack then break right, going up to and past the left facing corner. Belay just past the corner. Anchor beta: I belayed to the right and top of the corner. There is a vertical crack there that feels much safer than the small horizontals a bit higher.

P3 (5.5PG) - 120': Straight up and over the corner above the belay, to another left facing corner. Traverse right to the tree ledge. The crux of this pitch was getting over the corner right off the belay.

P4 (5.5PG) - 190': This is a great pitch, and wanders somewhat: From the belay, 4th class for a about 40' right, then go up straight through the middle of the overlap, then to a second overlap. Undercling left, and at the corner, go up. Move up the face next to the left arching overlaps and break through before they end. There is a piton (doesn't look too old) towards the beginning of the arches. Once over the arches, friction up to the trees.

Walk off by continuing up to the top through the bushes then following the trail back down to the campground. At hospital rock (big rock at a lookout), take a right. The walkout takes about 30 minutes. It's not worth abseiling IMHO.

If you do decide to rap anyway, remember that the rappels deposit you at the base of the visor section of the slab, which means that you'll need to get back up to the vegetated ledge to get your stuff (if you leave some there). The 2 rappels I spotted on the way up were off slings on trees, so if you're as chicken as me, bring up some leaver slings to add to the tat if need be. (really, the walk off is a breeze, quicker and much safer)


When arriving at the base of the slab from the trail, continue left along the base of the slab until you've passed the visor (big arch that you can see on the slab).

Sramble up left to gain a high vegetated ledge. See pictures for what the base looks like.

As always, refer to Adirondack Rock for complete details.


The two first belays are gear anchors, the two last are off trees.

There are no bolts, but the first 2 pitches have one old bolt stud each.

I used up the small TCU's more than usual so if you have them, bring them.
Mike McLean
Mike McLean  
Yesterday I had the good fortune of climbing right next to Bernard Poisson who was on the FA of this route. He is now 80 and he was still doing great on the rock.

I discussed Catharsis with him for a bit, telling him how much of a great route it is. He told me that FA was done with big boots at that time. Although I know that sticky rubber wasn't around yet back in the 50's, it was cool to see him downplay the boldness of it. He explained that he did it with a new pair of boots from France that allowed him to stand on small nubs without tiring out. Sep 4, 2011
Simon Thompson
New Paltz, NY
  5.5 PG13
Simon Thompson   New Paltz, NY
  5.5 PG13
In my opinion, this climb is harder and better than the Regular Route on Chapel Pond Slab. The cruxes are more sustained and the gear is a bit more sparse. When we did it we rappelled to descend and it wasn't too bad. We didn't leave anything at the base of the route though. Excellent climb. Nov 8, 2011
Mike McLean
Mike McLean  
I agree about the Chapel Pond Slab comparison. I found this to be a LOT more commiting and runout than regular. A great route though; but not the same category of 5.5 as Regular at the Pond. Nov 9, 2011
Stone Ridge, NY
  5.6 PG13
lucander   Stone Ridge, NY
  5.6 PG13
Seemed hard for the grade compared to Standard Route at Whitehorse or the Chapel Pond Slab. Route finding was more intricate and gear was further away. That said, a fun climb and a nice walk off. Start early to avoid the hot sun. Jan 16, 2012
Ian Dibbs
  5.6 R
Ian Dibbs  
  5.6 R
I agree with the others and feel that Catharsis is way harder that Chapel Pond Regular Route. Thought Chapel Pond was 5.3 ish and Catharsis 5.6 ish (it was raining though). With a 70 meter rope(60 meter is too short!),the 1st and 2nd pitches can be linked to save time. There is a big established trail down which took me almost 50 minutes from top to get back to my parked car at the base. Possible summer warning ... I went from having almost burning hot feet from the sunshine, to being stuck at the 3 rd (big tree)belay in a rain storm ...weather seems to change quickly here. Jul 11, 2012
Took a cheese grater whipper on p4 today and the gear loop with all my cams tore during the descent. From what I could tell most landed about 50ft right of the dead oak ledge down on the smaller vegetated ledge if not. If memory serves there is a .5, .75, and 2 BD cam and 4 or 5 Metolious TCUs, but I don't know what numbers. If anyone sees\gets them before I have a chance to get back up and rap down to get em please let me know. They have lightweight CAMP biners on most of them, one might be a Kong.

Thank you May 7, 2013
San Pedro, California
  5.6 R
Benjaminadk   San Pedro, California
  5.6 R
Great route. Pitch 4 is very engaging. I'd call it 5.6 R. There is some real potential to take a ride coming through the arching corners near the top. After a piton (with cam back up right next to it) I don't think there is any solid gear for 20'. There is a thin flake but i wouldn't trust something I can expand with one finger. All that said, I think this is the best "easy" slab route in the park, just edging out Empress and Little Finger and totally opening up a can of whoop ass on CP slab Regular Route. Jun 1, 2014
adkeditor Brown
Saranac Lake, NY
adkeditor Brown   Saranac Lake, NY
I led Catharsis for the first time the other day. I have soloed Regular Route many times, and I agree Catharsis is harder. Although "Adirondack Rock" rates it 5.5, Mellor's guidebook rated it "5.5 or 5.6." Incidentally, on the final pitch I got off route and in a bit of trouble. At the piton at the start of the yellow slabs, there is a crack that goes up to the right. There was chalk on it, so I followed it to the end and managed to climb a bit higher on small scoops and such. Above the rock looked steep and featureless, so I down-climbed and finished the normal way. But I am wondering if anybody has climbed it the other way and if so what the friction would be rated. It looked more difficult than Thanksgiving on Chapel Pond Slab.

Comments refer to frictioning after breaking over the yellow slabs. I followed a right-rising crack. It was either that or easy friction, and the crack looked a tad more interesting. Basically just walked along it most of the way to the final ledge. Jun 10, 2014
Dan Africk
Brooklyn, New York
  5.6 R
Dan Africk   Brooklyn, New York
  5.6 R
Very scenic and enjoyable route, but there are scary runouts on every pitch- definitely not PG! The belay ledge at the top of the third pitch is one of the nicest belay ledges I've ever used- gorgeous views, comfortable spot with both sun and shade, and blueberry bushes to snack on!

The anchor at the top of the second pitch is a bit tricky, I built it in the horizontal crack about 10' above the ledge, then lowered myself to the ledge to belay. You can get plenty of solid, but small pro in the crack (see photo). There are other anchor possibilities to the right or below the tiny ledge, but this seemed the most secure way, and the anchor makes a good first 'jesus piece' for the leader.

Approach/descent beta: If you're coming from the campground, walk along the highway a few minutes until you see the speed limit sign on the left, and then find the trail on the right. Don't even think about trying to take a shortcut from one of the campground trails, we ended up hiking most of the way up the descent trail before turning back. There was one patch of thick poison ivy on the approach, so use caution.

For the walk-off, follow the rock cairns at the top. The trail is very subtle, we turned right too soon (near the 4th or 5th cairn I think) and ended up bushwacking a while before intersecting the trail. I think you need to keep hiking higher up to find the proper trail. Once you find it, it's about 20-30 minutes to the bottom.

Jul 8, 2014
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.6 PG13
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  5.6 PG13
Until about 10-15 yrs ago the "anchor" at 2nd belay used to be a very solid birch tree...smallish, but really solid. I think the ice-storm(s) of the late 1990's killed it. Jun 9, 2016
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.6 PG13
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  5.6 PG13
"Re-climbed" the route for the um-teenth time (but first time in 6-7 yrs) 4-10-16. Comments:
1) Fixed rope on approach is nice, but nicer would be an indication of where it begins. I/we completely missed the bottom of the rope, and followed the old path, which is a don't-slip/fall-class 3, and which is was unpleasantly damp and muddy.

2) P2's belay set-up is challenging, even today with cams. I suggest that the "key" piece is a 0.4 Camalot, or as shown in one photo, a pink Tri-Cam, then wired nuts backing it up. One piton (or bolt) would greatly enhance the safety of this belay. Someday an inexperienced leader is going to set it up poorly, then fall on the first move of P3 (leader has nothing to clip but the anchor itself) and the resulting fall (nearly-a-fall-factor-2)is going to blow out the belay, resulting in.....

3) The mid-portion of P3 protects with small-to-finger sized wired nuts; if you don't have these it's probably "5.5 R-almost-X"

3) When I do this climb I usually "move the belay [i.e. do a short "P4"] for the last pitch" from the oak tree-ledge to a great spot about 50-60 ft to the right. (Small cams and small-finger-nuts for the anchor). This reduces rope drag and eliminates 50-60 ft of slack to the first pro under the small overlap.

4) The "doesn't look too old" comment on the piton: I don't remember when it wasn't there, and I first did this route in the early 1970's, if not late 1960's. (That's not to say it hasn't been replaced from time to time.)

5) I gave the 3rd pitch and last pitch (and thus the climb) a 5.6 PG rating, but technically I think it's more like 5.5 R. The easiest route on both pitches is complex to figure out. If you don't step left on P4 (my "P5") and climb the face up to the arch's apex, but rather try to follow the cracks in the arch, the rating escalates rapidly. Jun 13, 2016
Really fun route. First climb after being injured for almost 4 months, and it went super smooth. I'd agree with others about it being slightly more difficult, and definitely more run out than regular route. Definitely enjoyed the undercling on p4! But still I wouldn't give it anything more than 5.6 especially for the adk. I agree with robert hall, I followed the cracks up and it spiced things up a bit.

Route finding was surprisingly easy and straight forward. we went about 50' left of the start of the fixed rope and scrambled up some ledges. wasn't bad. left an old #9 nut near the top of p2, my follower and the other parties couldn't get it out ;) theres some other booty in that same crack. butt-crack, if you will. Jul 15, 2016
With its 5.5PG rating--this was supposed to be an "easier", follow-up day for me and my partner--after spending the previous day on "Gamesmanship". But I ended up thinking that this was the "scariest easy climb" I'd ever been on. Some of you can take this as a "warning"--and others can write it off as the opinion of an overly-cautious, old geezer. I have led quite a few slab routes on both Chapel Pond Slab and Whitehorse Ledge, NH--and I found "Catharsis" to be perhaps the "spookiest". I agree with many of the comments expressed above. Do not take this route with the 5.5 grade lightly. It IS an adventure. My partner and I took along a reduced photocopy of the route topo and text description--and I did plenty of consulting both in my attempt to not stray into trouble. I still failed to angle up to the "oak tree ledge" as I should have--and had to do a somewhat-sketchy down-climb to that belay anchor. Ditto the above comments: expect LONG run-outs and the need to hunt for protection and decipher the route--especially, P4. With double, 60m ropes, we rapped down from the top with no difficulties--but did have to scramble back to the start to retrieve our packs. That old rope hand-line was appreciated. Oct 8, 2016
sheindl Heindl
Rochester, NY
  5.7 PG13
sheindl Heindl   Rochester, NY
  5.7 PG13
yeah easy first 3 pitches. 4th is long, recommend a 70, its very easy to get off route and end up on a runout over harder territory. On the big over lap corner near the end go left if u like friction almost to the corner of the arches. if u go for that attractive crack near the pition its SPICEY Jul 16, 2017
Montreal, Quebec
  5.6 R
rocknice2   Montreal, Quebec
  5.6 R
I took the nice little crack to the right and continued up the slab. It's fine at first but the higher you get there are less features and more lichen. I whipped from near the top and fell all the way below the second and almost to the first overlap. 80 footer!

With a 70 you can link P2 + P3. This avoids the awful anchor of P2. Oct 2, 2017